Barbi Brown's Bunnies

A rabbit that sneezes is, well, nothing to sneeze at! 

Why a rabbit sneezes can be quite varied.  Rabbits, like humans can be allergic or can have respiratory infections.  Knowing the difference is the important issue.

House dust, perfume, fabric softener, room fresheners, cigarette smoke, pot pouri and many more things found in every house can cause rabbits to become allergic.   Products used for bedding or litter like pine shavings, cedar, or clay litters can also be the culprit.

Outdoors, dust, smoke, pollen, hay and more may be the cause.

If there is no discharge from the nose or if the discharge is clear, it is likely the cause is allergic.

On the other hand, if the discharge from the nose is thick, white, yellow or green, it is caused by an infection. Respiratory infections are serious and require medical attention and appropriate antibiotic treatment.  The type of antibiotic will vary based on the diagnosis.   NEVER ALLOW a vet to give your rabbit AMOXICILLIN! It is deadly to rabbits. Find a rabbit saavy vet as soon as possible. (And no, not all vets are rabbit saavy!)  The only way to tell for sure the type of infection is by performing a culture and sensitivity test.   The test results do not come back quickly so most vets will begin a treatment regimen (based on their best guess of cause) while they wait for the results.  A vet that declares the cause to be Pasturella without a culture is irresponsible.  It cannot be identified without a culture. There are many pathogens that can cause respiatory illness including, but not limitied to Pseudomonas, Staph, Strep, E-Coli, Pasturella, and Bordatella. A culture will identify the pathogen and the sensitivity test will tell you which drugs the pathogen will respond to.

Finding the cause of such infections is important to the rabbit's recovery.

High levels of ammonia are the most common cause of respiratory infections.  The ammonia literally burns the nasal hairs that filter out bacteria.   Regular removal of urine and feces is critical to your rabbit's health. 

Bacterial infections can be spread from one rabbit to another through direct contact or from aerial contamination so quarantine of the sick animal is imperative.

I am constantly amazed when I hear stories of people who took their rabbit to vet and it has been put on antibiotic therapy for a respiratory infection and the vet made no recommendation about disinfecting the living quarters!  That is like giving a dog a flea bath and then putting it back in the yard with the fleas.  There are many ways to disinfect a rabbit cage but we recommend Iodine Sanitizer as the safest and most effective.

Rabbits will continually reinfect themselves while grooming if the front feet are not disinfected as well as the cages, feeder, water bottle etc.    You can throw antibiotics at a rabbit forever but if you don't kill the bugs in his environment, it won't make a difference.